Ella's Hope cracks top ten ranking in Pepsi Refresh Project

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | 7:10 p.m. CDT; updated 10:05 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 22, 2010

COLUMBIA — Hope McPheeters, who applied for a grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project in June, has entered the Top 10 list in the health category and will receive $25,000 if she retains her rank until Oct. 1.

McPheeters' plan for a nonprofit organization, Ella’s Hope, will help promote autism awareness and provide support for families of children with the disorder. The organization is named for McPheeters' 5-year-old daugher Ella who has a type of autism. McPheeters’ project is currently placed sixth in her category.


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“We never dreamed that we’d do so well,” McPheeters said.

After submitting the application, McPheeters and her husband, Sam, began trying to gain votes. They handed out fliers at tailgates for Missouri football games, sent e-mails, tweeted and created a Facebook page.

The McPheeterses, both MU alumni, utilized their membership in the Greek system. McPheeters introduced her cause to her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, while her husband spoke to his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta.

McPheeters said she believed media exposure was the key to pushing their plan into the Top 10. The Standard Democrat, a newspaper in her husband’s hometown of Sikeston, wrote a feature piece on McPheeters’ mission. Since it was published, McPheeters’ ranking jumped to sixth place from eleventh.

“We’re so appreciative and thankful for all the support we got,” McPheeters said.

You can support Ella's Hope by texting 100288 to 73774 to vote for McPheeters' plan.

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